Scottish Lib Dems say they will make sure the Highlands and Islands have a voice when it comes to tackling the climate emergency in Scotland.
Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton says he wants to establish a new Highlands and Islands Just Transition Commission to make sure the “specific needs and unique opportunities” of Scotland’s island communities are represented when it comes to moving away from a reliance on oil and gas.
This comes after Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart called for a taskforce to be set up to make sure the islands are not “forgotten” after the Scottish Government announced a new £500 million just transition fund which will be limited to the North East and Moray.
Everyone in Scotland needs to adapt
Mr Cole-Hamilton says it is important families living in the islands who will be directly affected by the decline in the oil and gas industry are well supported.
He said: “Everywhere and everyone needs to adapt if Scotland is to have a sustainable future.
“No community should be left behind.
“The Highlands and Islands helped Scotland reach new heights of prosperity by adapting to make the most of the North Sea oil and gas.
“Now, people in these places are looking to the future and the potential a climate friendly future could hold.
“But families, livelihoods and communities have been built around industries that are now in decline.
— Scottish Lib Dems (@scotlibdems) October 3, 2021
“These areas depend on future opportunities, and they need help to find them.
“This is a bid to recognise how important oil and gas has been to communities across the entire north of Scotland and ensure that everyone gets the skills, support and retraining they need to thrive.”
Islands leading the way in green energy
This is just one of a number of pledges the Scottish Lib Dems have made in the past few weeks to help offer a “new hope for the climate emergency”.
In the run-up to the COP26 UN climate change summit, which begins in Glasgow at the end of this month, the Lib Dems have set out plans to revolutionise the uptake of electric vehicles, tackle fast fashion culture, and embed a circular economy.
Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney and the party’s climate emergency spokesman, added: “Areas like Orkney have already shown incredible, world leading innovation.
“From the development of tidal energy to low emission transport options, the islands have been leading the way.
“At the same time, many people still work in the oil and gas industry, and haven’t yet found a way to switch to something more sustainable.
“There should be a transition for those people, their jobs shouldn’t just be sacrificed.”